“Of course I’ve got a conscience. He’s sitting right here next to me.”
I'll try any m/m fiction K.J. Charles puts out - not only is she my favorite romance writer, but she actually puts forth a good plot combined with the love stuff, a trait that isn't as common as it should be.
I knew I'd like it at least a little - see statement above - but it did lose some stars for personal preference alone. I dislike reading stories about fugitives,brushes with the law, and misunderstandings. This had all of those for most of the book, which dampened my enjoyment. There's something frustrating about that story lines, and it's the reason I put off reading this so long. It held up the first half of the book.
The writing was top notch and I loved the main pair after they get settled and past their differences. The betrayal was a big time one, so this wasn't any kind of flimsy angst invented for plot sake. Ben feels viciously betrayed by the man he loved and trusted when not only did the man lie to him about being a thief, but he left him behind to take the fall and suffer through hard labor imprisonment.
It's hard to believe two can come together and still go forward in a romantic relationship after that, but as it plays out it makes sense to the reader as much as to the character. Eventually we both forgave. Ben is simple but wonderfully loyal, and Jonah is a playful but reckless character with a heart-jolting grin and deep grained distrust of society and the way it should work. The betrayal isn't gotten over quickly, it's explained and worked through - the angst was real, but not annoying because it was accompanied by anger and nothing whiny. It was realistic and the way they worked through the issues gets a mini-applause.
The ending - sigh, that ending was beautiful and almost made it a four star.; KJ Charles didn't disappoint. The ending made up for a lot of the angst, I loved both of the characters, and seeing Crane and the others at the end was also great. I have to admit since they were on the other side of the law before, they irritated me earlier in the book (shocking, I know, loved them in their own series...) but it wasn't their side I was on this time. Besides the MC's, you get a cast of great characters in the village.
There's a heartfelt warmth once the two work past their differences, and that ending could almost bring a tear to bitter eyes. Bedroom steam isn't as potent as most of her other works, but this is probably because the characters were already in an established relationship.
I loved the world of the Magpie series; this offers paranormal ability, but it's not a crime type drama or mystery. It's a historical drama type tale where two vulnerable men find each other in love and eventually realize that's the one thing worth fighting for in the end.
“Nothing had changed, nothing to remedy his pain and anger and hate. Jonah was a thief, a liar, an accessory to murder. But he had said 'Score me a try', and the words had stabbed Ben’s heart with sweetness.”